Actress Salli Richardson Whitfield and PAFF founder Ayuko Babu presented awards to honorees including "Father of West Indian Cinema" Christian Lara (Pioneer Filmmaker Award), actress Nicole Beharie (Beah Richards Rising Star Award), Ambassador Filippe Savadogo (Visionary Award), and actor Omari Hardwick (Canada Lee Rising Star Award).
Accepting the Beah Richards Award, Nicole Beharie reflected on being deeply affected 10 years prior watching Lisa Gay Hamilton's Beah Richards documentary Beah: A Black Woman Speaks.
Concluding the ceremony, veteran actress Lynn Whitfield was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Accepting her award staff from PAFF co-founder Janet DuBois, Whitfield shared, "I will work hard every day in every way to continue to bring the truth in an entertaining package. All these years have been like a gumbo - you put all the ingredients in the pot, cover it up, turn the fire down, and let it simmer. So what I'm saying is, I'm not done yet."
For AAFCA, the big winner of the night was Ava DuVernay's Middle of Nowhere, which received awards for Best Actress (Emayatzy Corninealdi), Best Screenplay, Best Music (Kathryn Bostic), and Best Independent Film.
Due to the northeast blizzard DuVernay was unable to make it to the ceremony and actor David Oyelowo accepted on her behalf. Referencing the film's indie budget, Oyelowo explained, "If you want to make a film for $200,000, write characters that aren't caricatures or stereotypes, and we will be there. We will take $100 a day."
An overall theme of the night was the push for more compelling black stories - to make and distribute them by any means necessary. Receiving his award for Best Supporting Actor, actor/activist Nate Parker urged the audience, "We have to push harder and push further. We have to continue to support platforms that recognize us. I encourage you all to write, to read, to study. Because if we don't tell our stories, someone else will."
Find the full list of AAFCA Award winners below:
AAFCA Top Ten Films of the Year:
1.“Zero Dark Thirty”
4.“Middle of Nowhere”
5.“Life of Pi”
7. “Django Unchained”
8.“Beast of the Southern Wild”
10.“Think Like a Man”
AAFCA Award Winners:
Best Actor Denzel Washington, “Flight” (Paramount)
Best Actress Emayatzy Corinealdi, “Middle of Nowhere” (AFFRM)
Best Supporting Actress Sally Field, “Lincoln” (Touchstone)
Best Supporting Actor Nate Parker, “Arbitrage” (Roadside Attractions)
Best Foreign Film Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, “The Intouchables” (Weinstein Company)
Breakout Performance Quvenzhané Wallis for “Beast of the Southern Wild”
Best Director Ben Affleck, “Argo” (Warner)
Best Screenplay Ava DuVernay, “Middle of Nowhere”(AFFRM)
Best Music Kathryn Bostic & Morgan Rhodes, “Middle of Nowhere” (AFFRM)
Best Independent Film “Middle of Nowhere” (AFFRM)
Best Animation “Rise of the Guardians,” (Paramount)
Best Documentary tie “The House I Live In” (Charlotte Street Films) &
“Versailles ’73” (Coffee Bluff Pictures)